Fishing Rigs, surfcasting information, Fishing Tackle and Components and Fish species

Surfcasting Beginners Guide

Breakout Sinkers

Breakout Sinkers

Breakout Sinkers

Always have breakout sinkers (BOS). These sinkers feature wire grapnels that prevent you baits rolling down the beach with the current or pushed back into the beach by waves. Check the cast weight of your rod (should have a range printed on it) and use the appropriate weighted sinker. 5 oz is usually a good all-round weight for most surf beaches.

Shock Leader

Use a shock leader. When casting with a surf rod huge amounts of force can be generated that will easily snap your rig off if a shock leader is not used. This can not only be expensive in terms of lost rigs, but, also dangerous to other beach users as the lead can fly off in any direction. At its most basic a shock leader is a heavier weight length of line that you join to the end of you main line. A general rule of thumb is to use a line strength that is 10 x the weight of your sinker eg for a 5 oz sinker you want to use at least 50 pound line. Your shock leader should be long enough to have the line run through your guides and back down to your reel with 5 turns of line on the spool. Alternatively you can buy a spool of tapered shock leaders, there are usually 5 on a spool and each one tapers from the weight of your mainline to around 70 pound at the end where you attach your rig. The advantage of these is that you get a much tidier knot where you join the leader to the mainline that will not catch on your guides during casting. In my opinion these are invaluable when using freespool reels as one catch of the shock knot on a guide during casting will result in a huge birdnest that will most likely need to be cut out and a respooling of your reel. Not much fun when the fish are on the bite.

Clips and Connectors

Clips and Connectors

Clips and Connectors

Always use appropriate strength clips and connectors. The advantages of using a shock leader are completely negated if you do not use appropriate strength connectors, swivels and clips on your rigs. Anything on the main rig body between your sinker and connection to the shockleader needs to be at least as strong as your shockleader.

Bait Cotton (Elastic)

Bait Elastic

Bait Cotton ( Elastic )

Always carry a good supply of bait cotton (also referred to as bait elastic). This is a thin elastic thread that you wind around your bait to keep it in place during casting and helps protect it from small fish that may attempt to strip your bait.




Always carry some form of float to lift you baits off the bottom. If you find every bait you put out is getting completely stripped off within minutes of it hitting the water chances are there are paddle crabs about. Using small floats to keep your baits off the bottom will help to prevent this and can be as simple as a piece of foam or cork or the more aerodynamic store bought options.

Learn Casting

Take the time to learn the fundamentals of casting. In most cases you will need a decent cast to get your line into the fish holding holes and gutters (exceptions being night fishing, steep beaches and when fishing for species that feed close to shore). Learning a few basic fundamentals can easily add vast improvements to the distance of most people who are just starting out. There is plenty of info out there, but, probably the easiest way to learn is to go along to one of the many club casting days and let people show you first hand. Most people at these events are more than happy to help out people with their casting technique and having someone actually watch what you are doing and give you on the spot feedback is invaluable. The key piece of advice I would have though is learn accuracy and consistency. The straighter your cast is the more distance (in the desired direction) you will achieve. Finally, casting is about technique and smoothness; it shouldn’t feel like a work out. Your rod should be doing most of the work not your muscles. Think of it like a golf swing, but, not quite as difficult. Investing in a good quality rod at the start will make a big difference, but, at the end of the day you will only get out what you put in and it is something that requires a little bit of practice. A few casting techniques to google:

Overhead thump: Basic cast that is a good starting point

Off the ground (OTG)cast: Another easy to learn cast that will teach you the fundamentals of the more complicated casting techniques such as the pendulum cast and is also capable of huge distances.

Hatteras Cast: Halfway between an OTG and pendulum cast it incorporates a step and turn into the cast. A good distance cast and a lot safer for fishing than the pendulum.

Pendulum Cast: Uses a long drop and body rotation to achieve huge distances. This is mainly used for tournament casting as it can be very dangerous on a crowded beach if the lead comes off mid cast or if a mistimed cast shoots off horizontally down the beach.


Use good quality, fresh bait that is appropriate to the species you are fishing for eg blue moki will not eat fish baits. Change you baits frequently, only leave your bait out for about 15 minutes or so.


Use circle or recurve hooks. These are a lot less likely to gut hook fish and are more likely to achieve a hook up as they are self setting in the sense that the weight of the sinker is usually enough to set the hook.

Night Fishing

Go night fishing. If you want to drastically increase your chances of catching more desirable species such as snapper you need to fish at night.

Glow Sticks

If night fishing make sure you have a glow stick or tip light to attach to the tip of your rod so you can see when the fish bites.

Head lamp

Get a good head lamp. These are worth their weight in gold when night fishing.

Rod Holder

Get a rod holder. You want something that will protect the investment you have made in your rod and reel so get one that will hold firmly in the beach. What ever happens do everything you possibly can to avoid your reel falling into the sand and salt water.


Wash your Reel

Rinse your reel under fresh water after every fish and let it air dry. Tighten your drag when rinsing to prevent water entry then loosen it off when storing to take the strain off your drag washers.

Protect your finger

If you are using an egg beater or fixed spool type reel try putting some tape around the finger you use to hold the line against the rod when casting. This will protect your finger from getting cut when you release the line during the cast. Another option is the finger of a rubber glove or piece of tyre inner tube.

Pick your line weight

Don’t spool your reel with too heavy a line. If you are fishing mainly clean sandy beaches then 20 pound line is as heavy as you will need to go for most species. Once you are more confident with your casting move to a lighter line weight as this will help improve the distance you will achieve when casting.

Your Catch

Store your fish

If possible take a chilly bin or polystyrene box with ice to keep your catch in. Fish killed quickly and put on ice will keep and taste much better. A fish that has been chilled on ice is also much easier to fillet.

Kill your catch quick!

Have something to humanely kill the fish you catch. For fish like Kahawai a whack on the head will dispatch them quickly. For flat fish like snapper you will need an iki spike or filleting knife to stab them just behind the eye with.

Know your fishing area

Clean up after yourself!

Don’t leave rubbish on the beach there is no excuse.

Learn the rules and regulations

Make sure you are aware of the regulations regarding all the species you may catch. These will sometime vary from area to area. Also be aware of any marine reserves in your area and where there boundaries are.

Respect your fellow fisherman

Respect the space of fellow fishers. We are lucky in New Zealand with the vast amounts of coastline we have and crowds are not usually a big issue at most places. But, if you arrive at a spot and there are other fishers around make sure you don’t go and set up right next to them. Fish can run up and down the beach, lines can drift in the current and everyone is capable of a wayward cast so to avoid the chances of a tangle with other peoples lines make sure you allow a bit of distance between you and anyone else fishing on the beach.


Use berley. Usually just a mixture in a bucket that gets spooned out at regular intervals. Store bought bombs melted in a bucket are the easiest way to go, but, there are a huge range of alternatives out there and options for making your own. The key to remember though is that you are trying to attract the fish not feed them.

Keep Safe, know your limits

Wading out into the surf is not usually necessary. Once you are standing in water much over your knees you will find it very difficult to cast anyway so often the distance you have gained from wading is negated by the distance you lose from your cast. Think twice about rocks and large surf. Rocks can be very slippery and you need to ask yourself if it’s worth the risk. Always keep an eye on the ocean since large waves can occur at any time.